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Scripps Research Scientist Wins 2005 NIH Director's Pioneer Award

LA JOLLA, CA, September 30, 2005—Clare Waterman-Storer, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology at The Scripps Research Institute, has been named one of the winners of the National Institutes of Health’s 2005 NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards, which includes a research budget of up to $500,000 in direct costs per year for five years.

A key component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, the Pioneer Award supports exceptionally creative scientists who take innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical research. Waterman-Storer is one of 13 scientists named today by NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., as new recipients of the prize, designed to give awardees the intellectual freedom to pursue groundbreaking new research directions.

The NIH recognized Waterman-Storer for her cutting-edge work in cellular biophysics. She has been devising a system for quantitatively imaging the dynamics of molecules during complex physical behaviors in living cells during fundamental processes such as cell migration and division.

Living things, says Waterman-Storer, are in part defined by to the ability to move or change, and she is interested in how systems of molecules inside a cell work together to contribute to cell movement. Using elegant and sophisticated microscopic techniques, she observes the complex behavior of cellular machinery involved in motility and then deciphers how different molecules organize together to produce the changes in pulling or pushing, stiffening and softening that are orchestrated within a single cell to produce its shape or positional changes. Understanding the basic mechanisms of cell migration may have implications for curing diseases of the immune and vascular systems as well as cancer metastasis.

“Clare's work and her enthusiasm for it epitomizes the future of cell biology,” says Sandra Schmid, chair of Scripps Research’s Department of Cell Biology. “Her creativity, innovation, and willingness to explore new territory defines her as a pioneer, clearly deserving of this prestigious award.”

The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research is a series of far-reaching initiatives designed to transform the nation's medical research capabilities and speed the movement of research discoveries from the bench to the bedside. More information on the 2005 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award recipients is at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/pioneer/Recipients05.aspx. Details on the Pioneer Award program, including the names of the outside evaluators for the 2005 awards, are at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/pioneer.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute, headquartered in La Jolla, California, in 15 buildings on 10 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations.  It stands at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its research into immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. Established in its current configuration in 1961, it employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel.

Scripps Florida, a 364,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art biomedical research facility, is under construction in Palm Beach County.  The facility will focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development. Palm Beach County and the State of Florida have provided start-up economic packages for development, building, staffing, and equipping the campus. Scripps Florida now operates with approximately 150 scientists, technicians, and administrative staff at 40,000 square-foot lab facilities on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Jupiter. 


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